4 Good Habits To Save Yourself (And Others) From Inbox Hell
Last week I published a guest post by John Anyasor on how to take revenge on your email inbox. He made a good point about sharing your email address. It’s very easy to just put your address out there, use it to register on a bunch of sites without a second thought, mention it in conversation on forums, etc. However, this all leads to your inbox filling up with junk that you have no interest in (I’m not just talking about spam here either) and is just one example of bad email habits.
So much is written about how to manage your inbox – make quick decisions when processing, archive and tag them, write brief replies – but that doesn’t resolve the bigger issue. The number of emails floating round yearly is astronomical but over 80% of them are simply unwanted or just outright spam. I believe to really get a grip of your inbox you need to deal with the cause not the symptoms, and break those bad emailing habits we all seem to pick up. And by adjusting how many emails you receive and send out, you will in turn benefit other people.
- Turn off notifications
Social media sites can be borderline abusive when it comes to dishing out email notifications for every little thing. Emails to let you know who has commented on a thread, who is following you, who left a comment on one your pictures, who requested to be friends with one of your friends’ friends… friends. But if you’re a regular user of, say, Twitter or Facebook (and according to all mainstream media outlets, everybody in the entire world is) you’ll get this information on the site anyway. Edit those notification settings!
If somebody sends you an email which expects a reply – whether it be your best friend or some upstart company wanting to give their new productivity app some publicity – give them a reply (unless of course it’s clearly spam) even if the email has no interest to you whatsoever. This may be a controversial idea and you may argue that if you ignore emails they will go away. But in my experience they’ll often send catch-up emails several weeks or days later. Save your time and theirs. A simple “Thanks – but no thanks” is usually more than enough.
- Protect your email address
So many sites require your email address and almost all of them will take advantage of it if you let them. Companies in particular are bad at this, clogging up your inbox with their latest offers and updates. When registering, for instace, you often have the option of signing up to these updates, promotions, newsletters, etc. Make sure you select the options that say “No, no, no! I do not want to recieve your spammy emails. Go away!” (or something like that).
- Don’t use email…
There was a time when email was the easiest way of communicating online (it might have been about the same time we stopped living in caves). However, nowadays there are so many different options. A site like Facebook can do a more than adequate job with the socializing side of things (no more emailing massive photo attachments for instance) and because Twitter is limited to 140 characters is makes it deceptively good for to-the-point communicating. Even the good ol’ phone, IM and texting can be better than email in the right circumstances. Leo of Zen Habits recently covered his own experiences of how he has cut out email, which is worth checking out for extra thoughts and ideas on this suggestion